String Quartet (Bruckner)

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String Quartet
by Anton Bruckner
Bruckner circa 1860.jpg
The composer, c. 1860
CatalogueWAB 111
Composed28 July 1862 (1862-07-28): Linz
Performed15 February 1951 (1951-02-15): Berlin
Published1955 (1955)
Recorded1962 (1962)

The String Quartet in C minor WAB 111, was composed by Anton Bruckner's in 1862 during his tuition by Otto Kitzler.


Bruckner composed the String Quartet in C minor between 28 July and 7 August 1862[1] during his tuition by Otto Kitzler, as a preliminary to exercises in orchestration. The manuscript of the Quartet was found on pp. 165–196 of the Kitzler-Studienbuch.[2]

A week after completing the composition (15 August 1862), Kitzler tasked Bruckner with writing a Rondo in größerer Form.[2] The 40-bars longer piece, which has the same key, metre and formal structure as the first Rondo, can, therefore, be regarded as an alternative to the first Rondo.[3]

The Quartet was not issued during Bruckner's life, since it concerned a sample of capability during his study period at Kitzler.[2] Bruckner did not bequeath a score of it as he did for the later Four Orchestral Pieces. The Kitzler-Studienbuch was wound up in the legacy of Bruckner's friend Josef Schalk in Munich, in which the Quartet was discovered in 1950 by the Koeckert Quartet. The Koeckert Quartet premiered the Quartet on 15 February 1951 in a Rundfunk im amerikanischen Sektor broadcast, and performed it on 8 March 1951 in a concert in Hamburg.[2]


The String Quartet was edited by Nowak in Band XIII/1 of the Gesamtausgabe in 1955.


The piece is a conventional string quartet in the usual four movements:

  1. Allegro moderato, C minor, common time
  2. Andante, A-flat major, 3/4, with Minore section in A-flat minor
  3. Scherzo, Presto G major, 3/4, Trio
  4. Rondo, Schnell, C minor, 2/4

Duration: 19 to 24 minutes.

Unlike his later works, Bruckner gave few indications as to phrasing, while dynamics appear only at a few key points. Rudolf Koeckert allowed Leopold Nowak to put his group's phrasing and dynamics into the Gesamtausgabe parts. However, the Gesamtausgabe score contains only those markings in Bruckner's hand. The String Quartet is a settlement with classical and early romantic examples. The from the beginning polyphonic imprint refers back to Bruckner's earlier exercises.[1]

The first movement, in traditional sonata form, is with audacious modulations in the development.[1] The exposition is marked for repeat; the only other Bruckner work with such a repeat is the Study Symphony.[4]
The Andante, in three parts (ABA) with modified reprise,[1] mirrors Beethoven's choice of key for a slow movement after a C minor Allegro, but having the central section in the parallel minor is something Bruckner never does again.[5]
The Trio of the Scherzo is in Ländler form.[1] Derek Watson finds that the Trio "has a Schubertian, freshly bucolic charm."[5]
The Rondo is in ABACABA form and has virtuoso accents.[1] The B theme appears first in E-flat major and later in C major, and the last turn of the A theme is highly ornamented.

One can already see connections to later Bruckner works in the key (C minor), in several harmonic phrases and theme patterns, as well as the use of Ländler motives.[1]

Selected discography[edit]

There are about 10 recordings of the String Quartet. The first recording was by the Keller Quartett in 1962.

Excellent recordings are according to Hans Roelofs i.a. those by the Koeckert Quartett, L'Archibudelli, the Fine Arts Quartet and the Zehetmair Streichquartett. Where the Koeckert Quartet actually disregarded the few dynamics markings Bruckner gave,[6] the Fine Arts Quartet obeys Bruckner's markings but mostly ignores Koeckert's.

  • Koeckert Quartett. Studio recording of 1974 put on compiling CD: Karna Musik Live KA-143M
  • L'Archibudelli. Anton Bruckner: String Quintet. Intermezzo. Rondo. String Quartet. CD: Sony Classical Vivarte SK 66 251, 1995 - on historical instruments
  • Fine Arts Quartet. BRUCKNER: String Quintet in F Major / String Quartet in C Minor. CD: Naxos 8.570788, 2008
  • Zehetmair Streichquartett. Beethoven, Bruckner, Hartmann, Holliger. CD: ECM 2195/96, 2010
  • Fitzwilliam Quartet. Anton Bruckner: String Quintet / String Quartet. CD: Linn LC 11615, 2011 - on historical instruments


  1. ^ a b c d e f g U. Harten, p. 406
  2. ^ a b c d C. van Zwol, pp. 682-683
  3. ^ Bruckner Chamber Work Versions by Davis Griegel
  4. ^ B. Korstvedt, p. 176
  5. ^ a b D. Watson, p. 73
  6. ^ L. Nowak, Band XIII/1 of the Gesamtausgabe


  • Anton Bruckner: Sämtliche Werke: Band XIII/1: Streichquartett c-Moll Musikwissenschaftlicher Verlag der Internationalen Bruckner-Gesellschaft, Leopold Nowak (Editor), Vienna, 1955
  • Uwe Harten, Anton Bruckner. Ein Handbuch, Residenz Verlag, Salzburg, 1996, ISBN 3-7017-1030-9
  • Derek Watson, "Bruckner", Schirmer, New York, 1996
  • Benjamin Korstvedt, "Aspects of Bruckner's approach to symphonic form", The Cambridge Companion to Bruckner edited by John Williamson, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2004
  • Cornelis van Zwol, Anton Bruckner – Leven en Werken, Thot, Bussum (Netherlands), 2012. ISBN 90-686-8590-2

External links[edit]